Slade Pushing for Playing Time

Comments from redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chad Slade and true freshman guard Christian Westerman are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Redshirt freshman Chad Slade has come a long way since he moved from his hometown of Moody, Ala., a small community northeast of Birmingham, to his new home in Auburn in 2010.

The redshirt freshman has gone from getting his "butt kicked" in practice last season to being a strong candidate to win the starting right tackle spot in his second year on The Plains.

"It's a really big adjustment coming from a little town like Moody," he says. "I love Moody, but just coming to a big school I knew I had a lot growing up to do.

"When I first got here, I didn't know what was going on," he says. "I didn't have a clue what was about to happen to me."

Slade says that being schooled in practice last season by the older guys like Nick Fairley and Mike Blanc helped him develop the mean streak that last year's offensive line often displayed.

"Getting my butt kicked by the older guys like Nick and Blanc, and all them, I just needed that," says the 6-foot-5, 320-pound redshirt freshman. "So coming out the next year, I knew I had a chance to be where (Lee) Ziemba and all them were."

Slade, who watched from the sidelines during Saturday's scrimmage as some of the younger players battled for playing time, says he has been getting reps with the first-team offensive line unit since the first week of fall camp. His hard work, determination and perseverance may pay off as he has a solid chance to be the Tigers' starting right tackle in the season opener against Utah State on Sept. 3, although he said the competition continues for who will lock down the starting spot.

"I feel like I'm making a big stride, working hard every day trying to get better and trying to get to where the older guys are," he says.

"To me, I really have to work on the run game--that's where I'm getting real good at is the run game," he adds. "I want to go in there and help my team out with the run and the pass, too, so I'm just trying to get better at both."

Slade is shown in action during this year's A-Day Game.

Senior A.J. Greene, who has been recovering from a leg injury that forced him to miss most of last season, has been rotating in practice between right and left tackle. Senior Brandon Mosley is expected to start at one of the tackle spots, but Grimes has not decided if it wil be on the left or right side.

Slade says the true freshmen competing for playing time on the offensive line are going through some of the same growing pains he experienced in his first year. One of those true freshmen is 6-foot-3, 277-pound Arizona native Christian Westerman, who has been working with the second-team at left guard this fall.

Christian Westerman is shown in a preseason drill.

"I definitely think I've progressed in run blocking and pass blocking," Westerman says. "I feel like I have a better feel at left guard than I did at offensive tackle, which I played in high school. I like it a lot better, actually, playing guard."

Westerman adds that he thinks he'll continue playing at guard, which he said is a more natural position for him.

Auburn's young offensive linemen are getting a welcomed two-day reprieve from practice before returning to the practice field on Tuesday.


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